The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted to spare the life of a death row inmate. James Coddington addressed the board himself and expressed remorse for killing his friend, 73-year-old Albert Hale, at Hale’s home in 1997 after Hale refused to give Coddington money for drugs. “The person that he welcomed into his home was not me, it was a shell of me. It was a drug addict that didn’t deserve his friendship,” said Coddington, reports Public Radio Tulsa. Hale’s family spoke about their loss. Son Mitch Hale said he’s forgiven Coddington but the murder devastated the family. “Not only did he brutally kill a kind, gentle, elderly man, he also killed our family. When he took my father’s life, he completely destroyed the gathering place and tradition of five generations,” said Hale.
Board member Edward Konieczny, appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in January, joined Richard Smothermon and Larry Morris in voting for clemency. Cathy Stocker and Scott Williams voted no. Konieczny cited exceptional childhood abuse, as well as Coddington’s age of 24 years at the time of the murder as concerns. Coddington’s attorney, Emma Rolls, played a video deposition of Coddington’s mother, Gala Hood, who said Coddington was given alcohol as a child by his brothers and beaten by his father who was drunk most of the time. Other Oklahoma inmates executed in the past also had documented chaotic childhoods. Schizophrenic Donald Grant, who was the first person put to death in the U.S. in 2022, had two brothers who are also convicted murderers but who got lighter sentences. Stocker, appointed by Stitt in March, said Coddington’s background was already considered in court and so she voted to deny clemency. The board’s recommendation will go to Stitt to decide. Coddington is scheduled for execution Aug. 25.